“My son will break your boy”
I was downright giddy as I walked into the Cineplex Tuesday night, 7 p.m., first showing. You see, this is not just about Creed II, this is about a journey. I am 45 years old, I have been watching Rocky movies my whole life, and I have shared the experience with my kids. Three years ago when Creed came out, I got to heighten the experience by introducing my kids to the new chapter, their chapter. My kids, like most now, are into hip-hop culture. I don’t always know now what is the latest and greatest; I usually stay in my lane with old school hip-hip or listen to some Lil’ Dickey, J. Cole, or Kendrick Lamar. My 15-year-old knows it all, so when a new breed of hip-hop-infused Rocky came long, we were all aboard.
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It has been a few years since we last saw Adonis Johnson, son of Apollo Creed. Times have been good for him; he has won several fights and was poised for the title shot against his rival Danny Wheeler. It feels like a title fight, with Max Kellerman on the call, and (unfortunately for my ears) Roy Jones Jr. on commentary. This was spoiled in the trailer, so I am fine with talking about it. The title and the mustang (lost in the first movie) are now Adonis Creed’s. But the good times are short lived, as an evil 30 years in the making rises up.
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Viktor Drago, son of Ivan, has been destroying opponents in the Ukraine (Ivan was exiled from Russia following his loss to Rocky, in Rocky IV). Working hard in a concrete factory in a cold and deserted town, Ivan pushes his son in training, with visions of revenge in the ring. The tomato cans put in front of Viktor are no match for his size, strength, and quickness. Enter Buddy Marcelle with a plan to make a legacy out of either Creed or Drago.
It is also worth noting here that Dolph Lundgren, a.k.a. Ivan Drago, is exceptional in this role. The years of pain are felt on his face. Kramer Morgenthau, the cinematographer, does a tremendous job of making us feel the cold, dreary life that the Dragos are living. The canvas shifts between the two main characters as the gold of Creed is outdone by the blues of the Dragos.
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I like to keep the rest of the story spoiler free for the audience, but I can give you a few more highlights of my experience.
The cast is back again, highlighted by Michael B. Jordan. Jordan seems to be great in any role that comes his way, but he especially shines as the hungry, longing-for-love Adonis Creed. He seems to always be running from his father’s legacy, yet trying to forge ahead to create his own. The weight of all of this is felt throughout the film, with little dialogue, just the cold eyes of Adonis, a kid still hurting.
His beloved Bianca is back, her hearing fading faster and faster, as her career continues to rise. Tessa Thompson is one of the hottest IPs in Hollywood right now; she seems able to do it all: Valkyrie (Thor and MCU), Charlotte Hess (Westworld), and now Bianca. She is not only beautiful but completely mesmerizing as Bianca yet again. As a girl in love, she is torn between helping and hurting, similar to the Adrian role 30 years ago.
Also back, of course, is Sylvester Stallone, who has been portraying this character for over 40 years. He continues to grow with the character, adding his heart and warmth to the once mighty champion. His transformation in the Mickey role is nearly complete, yet he has more to add with the history between the two fighters’ fathers. The movie would not work without Rocky, at least not in my opinion. He ties the stories all together, and for me, he makes it easy for a father and son to relate.
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As the movie continues to move forward, the weight of the characters’ decisions is felt. I began to move up in my seat as each song played. I nearly screamed in excitement as an old school montage began, a staple in the 80s movies. And as the final act played out, I was the one screaming at the screen, as my sons and wife looked on in horror and smiled. They knew what this meant for us, not just another night out at the movies, but an experience to remember as we wait to watch all the Rockys and Creeds in a row someday and talk about the first time. I am lucky that they come on these journeys with me. Someday, I hope they get to experience the same joy I get as we walk out of the movies and eagerly discuss our favorite parts.
It was easy this time; we were excited for a montage!
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Jaxwing scale 8/10